Fact Sheets


Milium vernale M. Bieb.

Family :

Famille :


Synonym(s) :

Synonyme(s) :

Agrostis vernalis (M. Bieb.) Poir. (ITIS 2021)

Milium montianum Parl. (ITIS 2021)

Milium scabrum  Rich. (ITIS 2021)

Common Name(s) :

Nom(s) commun(s) :

Spring milletgrass
(English) (GC 2016)
Millet de printemps (French) (GC 2016)
Early millet (English) (FNA 1993+)
Vernal millet grass (English) (USDA-ARS 2021)

  • Spring millet grass (Milium vernale) florets

  • Spring millet grass (Milium vernale) florets

  • Spring millet grass (Milium vernale) floret

  • Spring millet grass (Milium vernale) floret

  • Milium vernale floret

  • Spring millet grass (Milium vernale) spikelets, florets, and caryopses

  • Milium vernale spikelets

Explore More :

Explore plus :



Regulation :

Remarques Réglementation:

  • CFIA Weed Seeds Order - Class 1: Prohibited Noxious Weed Seeds

Regulation Notes:

Prohibited Noxious, Class 1 in the Canadian Weed Seeds Order (2016) under the Seeds Act. All imported and domestic seed must be free of Prohibited Noxious weed seeds.

Distribution :

Répartition :

Native to northern Africa, southern Europe and western Asia (Prather et al. 2010; USDA-ARS 2021). Introduced into Idaho in Triticum aestivum subsp. aestivum (winter wheat) seed (Prather et al. 2010; USDA-NRCS 2021). Absent from Canada (Brouillet et al. 2010+).

Habitat and Crop Association :

Habitat et Cultures Associées :

Cultivated fields, field edges, pastures (Callihan et al. 1999; Barkworth et al. 2007; Prather et al. 2010). Reported as a weed of Triticum aestivum subsp. aestivum (winter wheat) and other crops in Idaho (Barkworth et al. 2007). Reported to prefer light soils that are damp in the winter months (Tutin et al. 1980).

Economic Use, cultivation area, and Weed Association :

Utilisation économique, zone de culture et association de mauvaises herbes :

Duration of Life Cycle :

Durée du cycle vital:


Dispersal Unit Type :

Type d’unité de dispersion :


General Information


Milium vernale is a pest of Triticum aestivum subsp. aestivum (winter wheat) and usually travels with the grain to be planted with the crop (Prather et al. 2010). In North America, it is only known to occur in Idaho, where it has infested Triticum aestivum subsp. aestivum (winter wheat), other crops and pastures since 1987 (Barkworth et al. 2007; Prather et al. 2010).


Milium vernale infestation (USDA APHIS PPQ – Oxford, North Carolina , USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org)



  • Spikelet


    • Spikelet length: 2.5 – 3.2 mm long (Barkworth et al. 2007)


    • Spikelet is oval-shaped with a pointed end

    Surface Texture

    • Spikelet surface is rough with 3 longitudinal nerves


    • Spikelet is light brown coloured
  • Floret


    • Floret length*: 1.8 – 2.1 mm; width: 0.8 – 1.0 mm
    Note*: minimum and maximum of 10 florets in a normal range of this species using image measurement (ISMA 2020)


    • Floret is generally oval, some are diamond-shaped; plano-convex in edge view 

    Surface Texture

    • Floret surface is smooth


    • Florets are glossy light brown or straw yellow  
    • Surface of floret is covered in thin brown streaks that give the appearance of wood grain  

    Other Features

    • Florets are white or light yellow colour when immature and may lack the brown streaks typical of mature florets
  • Caryopsis 


    • Caryopsis length*: 1.5 – 1.6 mm; width: 0.7 – 0.8 mm
    Note*: minimum and maximum of 5 caryopses in a normal range of this species using specimen measurement (ISMA 2020)


    • Caryopsis is oval shape with a truncate embryo endplano-convex in edge view

    Surface Texture

    • Caryopsis surface is smooth 


    • Caryopsis is reddish brown colored

    Other Features

    • Hilum is round and light brown on the truncate end of the seed 
  • Embryo


    • Embryo is a rudimentary size compared to the caryopsis


    • Embryo is oval shaped, lateral position at one end of the caryopsis


    • Endosperm is translucent whitish coloured

    Other Features

    • Embryo end is pointed, extending beyond the end of the caryopsis

Identification Tips


M. vernale florets can be distinguished primarily by the solid light brown colour with a streaked surface pattern. Other weedy species with small, glossy brown, oval shaped florets such as Panicum capillare and P. dichotomiflorum are dark brown with several straw yellow coloured longitudinal stripes.

Additional Botany Information


Similar Species


Similar species are based on a study of seed morphology of various species, and those with similar dispersal units are identified. The study is limited by physical specimen and literature availability at the time of examination, and possibly impacted by the subjectivity of the authors based on their knowledge and experience. Providing similar species information for seed identification is to make users aware of similarities that could possibly result in misidentification.

Panicum antidotale Retz. (giant panic grass)

P. antidotale has florets that are generally larger (length*: 1.8 – 2.6 mm; width 0.9 – 1.3 mm) than M. vernale and are a lighter brown colour with wide brown streaks and patches on the surface, while M. vernale florets have thin brown surface streaks.

*Note: minimum and maximum of 10 florets in a normal range of this species using image measurement (ISMA 2020)

Milium effusum L. (wood millet)

M. effusum has larger florets (length: 2.3 – 3.0 mm, Barkworth et al. 2003) that are generally uniform dark brown.

Click to select species

Cliquez pour sélectionner les espèces

Comparison Window

Fenêtre de comparaison

Need ID Help?

Besoin d’aide pour l’identification?



Barkworth, M. E., Capels, K. M., Long, S., Anderton, L. K. and Piep, M. B., (eds.) 2003. Volume 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.

Barkworth, M. E., Capels, K. M., Long, S., Anderton, L. K. and Piep, M. B., (eds.) 2007. Volume 24. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.

Brouillet, L., Coursol, F., Meades, S.J., Favreau, M., Anions, M., Bélisle, P. and Desmet, P. 2010+. VASCAN, the database of vascular plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/ Accessed April 1, 2021.

Callihan, R. H., Miller, T. W., Morishita, D. and Lass, L. 1999. Idaho’s Noxious Weeds. University of Idaho, http://www.oneplan.org/Crop/noxWeeds/index.asp Accessed May 30, 2016.

The Flora of North America Association (FNA). 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. New York and Oxford, http://beta.floranorthamerica.org/Main_Page; http://www.fna.org/FNA/ Accessed December 29, 2022.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Secretariat. 2022. https://doi.org/10.15468/39omei Accessed via https://www.gbif.org/species/2706195 Accessed December 29, 2022.

Government of Canada (GC). 2016. Canadian Weed Seeds Order. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2016-93/page-2.html (English) https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/fra/reglements/DORS-2016-93/page-2.html (French)

International Seed Morphology Association (ISMA). 2020. Method for Seed Size Measurement. Version 1.0. ISMA Publication Guide.  https://www.idseed.org/authors/details/method_for_seed_size_measurement.html

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2021. https://www.itis.gov/ Accessed April 1, 2021.

Prather, T., Robins, S. and Morishita, D. 2010. Idaho’s Noxious Weeds (5th ed.). University of Idaho Extension, Moscow, ID. 140 pp.

Tutin, T. G., Heywood, V. H., Burges, N. A., Moore, D. M., Valentine, D. H., Walters, S. M. and Webb, D. A. (eds.) 1980. Flora Europaea. Volume 5: Alismataceae to Orchidaceae (Monocoyledones). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). 2021. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN),  https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx  Accessed  April 1, 2021.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). 2021. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC USA. http://plants.usda.gov Accessed April 1, 2021.



Jennifer Neudorf, Angela Salzl, Ruojing Wang, Karen Castro, Katrina Entwistle

Canadian Food Inspection Agency